• “Lenin thought himself an idealist. He was not a monster, a sadist or vicious. In personal relationships he was invariably kind and behaved in the way he was brought up, like an upper-middle-class gentleman. He was not vain. He could laugh – even, occasionally, at himself. He was not cruel: unlike Stalin, Mao Zedong or Hitler he never asked about the details of his victims’ deaths, savouring the moment. To him, in any case, the deaths were theoretical, mere numbers. He never donned uniforms or military-style tunics as other dictators favoured. But during his years of feuding with other revolutionaries, and then maintaining his grip on power, he never showed generosity to a defeated opponent or performed a humanitarian act unless it was politically expedient.”

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